Politically, Cyprus has been an independent state, the Republic of Cyprus, since 1960, apart from two enclaves retained by the United Kingdom as "sovereign bases." Since 1974 the northern third of the island has been under military occupation by Turkey. The Turkish Cypriot minority, under Turkish sponsorship, have declared a state called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. This state is not recognised by the United Nations or any country other than Turkey. Under international law, the Republic of Cyprus retains sovereignty over all its pre-1974 territory.
Name and position
The English-language "copper" is a Latinized version of the name of Cyprus, large deposits of which are found on the Island.
Cyprus is geographically in Southwest Asia, but many Greek-speaking Cypriots assert that they are a part of Europe mainly due to the fact that the majority of its inhabitants are of European extraction and as such are both culturally and politically closer to Europe than Asia. Historically, Cyprus has always been a bridgehead between Europe and Asia, with interchanging periods of Levantine, Anatolian and Greek influences.
The Republic of Cyprus is the internationally recognized government of the island, but controls only the southern two-thirds of that territory. Turkey does not accept its rule over the whole island and calls it Greek Authority of Southern Cyprus. The northern third was occupied by Turkey in a 1974 invasion following a coup sponsored by the military regime of Greece. The area occupied by the Turkish Army proclaimed its independence in 1975, and the so called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was established in 1983, recognized as is only by Turkey and as "Turkish Cypriot State" by the members of Organization of the Islamic Conference. In the time since the invasion, the northern third has become almost exclusively Turkish, and the southern two-thirds almost exclusively Greek, so the territories are now sometimes referred to as the "Greek part" and the "Turkish part" of Cyprus. It should be noted that the so called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is a self-proclaimed state, recognized only by Turkey. All other governments and the United Nations recognise the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole island of Cyprus.
The other power with territory on Cyprus is the United Kingdom. Under the independence agreement, the UK retained title to two small areas on the southern coast of the island, around Akrotiri and Dhekelia, known collectively as the UK sovereign base areas. They are used to host military bases.
Negotiations have been ongoing for years to reunify the island, but have not as yet seen substantial success. A United Nations plan, announced on 31 March 2004 following talks in Switzerland, was put to both sides in separate referenda on 24 April 2004. It was favoured by the Turkish side by a majority of 2 to 1, but was rejected by the Greek side by a 3 to 1 margin. As a result, while officially the whole of Cyprus entered the European Union on 1 May 2004, the de facto EU border runs along the Green Line, dividing the country between the Greek and Turkish parts. EU law is currently not applied in the Turkish controlled north. See: Annan Plan, 2004 referendum.
EU member states and the United Nations were disappointed by the Greek Cypriot rejection of the agreement. The European Union has promised aid and to work towards lifting the trade sanctions imposed by the European Court, although they have ruled out diplomatic recognition of Northern Cyprus.
Main article: History of Cyprus
Main article: Geography of Cyprus
The central plain (Mesaoria) with the Kyrenia and Pentadactylos mountains to the north and the Troodos mountain range to the south and west. There are also scattered but significant plains along the southern coast.
The climate is temperate, Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cool, variably rainy winters.
Main article: Politics of Cyprus
Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided de facto into the government-controlled southern two-thirds of the island and the Turkish-Cypriot northern one-third. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has continued as the internationally recognized authority; in practice, its power extends only to the Greek Cypriot-controlled areas.
The 1960 Cypriot Constitution provided for a presidential system of government with independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as a complex system of checks and balances, including a weighted power-sharing ratio designed to protect the interests of the Turkish Cypriots. The executive, for example, was headed by a Greek Cypriot president and a Turkish Cypriot vice president, elected by their respective communities for 5-year terms and each possessing a right of veto over certain types of legislation and executive decisions.
The House of Representatives was elected on the basis of separate voters' rolls, but since 1974, the Turkish seats in the House have been vacant. Originally, there were two Communal Chambers, but the Greek Cypriot Chamber was abolished in the 1960s.
In 1974, following a coup intrigued by CIA and executed by the Greek Junta -then in control of the National Guard and the military invasion of Turkish forces (claiming their authority was as one of the 3 international guarantors of Cyprus), 195,000 majority Greek Cypriots were forcibly expelled from the north and 55,000 Turkish Cypriots from the south were moved to north. Ever since, Turkish Cypriots unilaterally set up their own institutions with a popularly elected president and a Prime Minister responsible to the National Assembly exercising joint executive powers. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots declared an independent "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (TRNC,) contrary to numerous UN SC resolutions calling such an act as illegal and a by-product of a foreign (Turkish) intervention. In 1985, they adopted a constitution and held elections--an arrangement recognized only by Turkey. See also:
Main article: Economy of Cyprus
Economic affairs in Cyprus are dominated by the division of the country into the southern (Greek) area controlled by the Cyprus Government and the northern Turkish Cypriot-administered area.
The Greek Cypriot economy is prosperous but highly susceptible to external shocks. Erratic growth rates in the 1990s reflect the economy's vulnerability to swings in tourist arrivals, caused by political instability on the island and fluctuations in economic conditions in Western Europe. Economic policy in the south is focused on meeting the criteria for admission to the European Union. As in the Turkish sector, water shortage is a growing problem, and several desalination plants are planned.
The Turkish Cypriot economy has about one-fifth the population and one-third the per capita GDP of the south. Because it is recognized only by Turkey, it has had much difficulty arranging foreign financing, and foreign firms have hesitated to invest there. The economy remains heavily dependent on agriculture and government service, which together employ about half of the work force. Moreover, the small, vulnerable economy has suffered because the Turkish lira is legal tender. To compensate for the economy's weakness, Turkey provides direct and indirect aid to tourism, education, industry, etc.
Main article: Demographics of Cyprus
Greek and Turkish Cypriots share many customs but maintain distinct identities based on religion, language, and close ties with their respective motherlands. Greek is predominantly spoken in the south, Turkish in the north. (This fact is true only in the present period, due to the expulsion of Greek Cypriots from the north, following the Turkish occupation since 1974. Historically however, Greek language was spoken by nearly 82% of the population, which was evenly distributed along the entire area of Cyprus -north and south.) English is widely used.
Cyprus has a well-developed system of primary and secondary education. The majority of Cypriots earn their higher education at Greek, Turkish, British, or American universities, while there are also sizeable emigrant communities in the United Kingdom and Australia. Private colleges and state-supported universities have been developed by both the Turkish and Greek communities.
Main article: Culture of Cyprus See also: